What, exactly, is a breed of horse? It’s a collection of
horses that have been selectively developed by breeders to
carry certain traits. Since the beginning of time people have
bred horses for particular jobs and tasks, and that’s why
there are so many distinct breeds today.
Some people needed big, heavy, and strong horses to get chores
done around the barn, while others were more interested in
breeding light and fast horses for racing or riding. Traits
that stand the test of time that are passed down from generation
to generation often become traits by which the breed is known.
The breed of horse you select can be very important to whether
or not you and your horse are well matched. So how do you
determine which breed is right for you? Ask yourself a few
• What discipline am I planning on enjoying with my horse?
Those who plan on enjoying barrel racing with their horse
will have dramatically different needs than someone whose
goal is to reach the Grand Prix level of dressage.
• What is my experience level? If you are a novice rider,
you will likely need a horse with a calm temperament. More
advanced riders can handle hotter horses.
• What is my temperament like? A good rule of thumb is that
you and your horse should balance each other out, and that
means you shouldn’t have the same weaknesses!
If you are hotheaded, go for a horse with a calmer temperament.
Now that you’ve asked yourself all the right questions, make
a list of the traits that are important to you. It’s easier
if you make two columns—one for conformation, and another
Once you have your list, you can start doing some research
to find breeds that share these traits.
Light horses. Light horses refer to just about any breed
of horse used for riding, and there is a great variety when
it comes to color, size, conformation, and temperament.
Popular light horse breeds include the American Quarter Horse,
whose athleticism, versatility, short-distance speed, and
sturdiness make it ideal for ranch work, cutting and reining,
and short-distance races;
the Arabian, whose beauty, incredible endurance, and high
spirits make it ideal for endurance trail riding, showing,
and pleasure; the Dutch Warmblood, whose conformation, athleticism,
and size make it perfect for jumping, dressage, and driving;
the Morgan, whose excellent temperament, strength, endurance,
soundness, and versatility appeal to people engaged in just
about any discipline; and the Thoroughbred, whose speed, endurance,
and “never-give-up” attitude make it well-suited to racing,
jumping, dressage, and cross-country.
Ponies. By definition, a pony is any horse standing under
14.2 hands. Despite their small stature, ponies can be excellent
mounts for adults and children alike, and often excel at jumping,
driving, and trail riding. Popular pony breeds include the
Chincoteague Pony, whose wonderful temperaments and pretty
faces make them ideal first mounts for children; the Connemara,
whose stamina, strength, and jumping talent help them excel
in jumping, hunting, dressage, driving, and other sporting
pursuits; the Hackney Pony, whose high action, great stamina,
and effervescent personalities make them just right for pleasure,
harness, and roadster driving; and the Shetland Pony, whose
versatility and great temperament make them ideal for carrying
children or for driving.
Heavy Horses. Heavy horses are those horses that are selectively
bred to be tall and massive, and were originally used for
farm work. Today, some heavy horses are used for riding. Popular
heavy horse breeds include the Belgian, whose sturdiness of
bone and high-stepping action make it ideal for pulling; the
Clydesdale, whose size and fluid and powerful movement make
it well-suited to draft work and being part of multi-horse
hitches; and the Percheron, whose elegance make it ideal for
harness and carriage driving.
So hope that gives you some insight on what you might be
thinking of starting your search for. We have included in
our resource box some sites that will help you start your
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and
the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares
through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the
links below. Amazing
Equine Network System